, Newburyport, MA


August 21, 2013

Same goal, different players

Amesbury looks to repeat as league champion


Amesbury graduated its top skill players in quarterback Matt Talbot, fullback Perry Mroz, halfback Tommy Connors and split end Devlin Gobeil. Unlike in 2008, when the Indians graduated a class that included Jared Flanigan, Steve Serwon and Kevin Johnston, Connors believes the gap in talent between the next class of players is relatively small.

Connors expects Ben Cullen to provide plenty of speed out of the backfield as a running threat, while first-year starting quarterback Mac Short attempts to pick up where Talbot left off behind center.

“Ben Cullen was a great player for us last year, and we’ll use him in a bunch of ways,” Connors said. “Mac Short took an enormous amount of reps at quarterback last year in practice, and he even got a little game experience. I don’t think we’ll miss to much of a beat at quarterback.”

Amesbury’s strength will likely be its offensive line, as each of the five projected starters earned playing time last season. From left to right, tackle Sam Springus, guard Matt Napoli, center Zack Fitzgerald, guard Matt Bell and tackle Dan Norton figure to carve out holes for Cullen and Short. Mroz’s backup last season, Alex Mercier, has moved to tight end to get more involved in the passing game. Pat Scanlon, who has grown to 6-foot-3, will play the role Gobeil filled last fall.

“We have good size on the line, and we have some young kids who will challenge as the season goes,” Connors said. “We have a group of really talented sophomore linemen who will mature over the year and step in a year from now.”

Coming off a playoff season, Amesbury drew 25 freshmen on the first day of practice Monday — about 10 more than the norm for a typical Day 1 in the Connors era.

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